"Date Night" ekes out disputed box office win

Sun Apr 11, 2010 6:12pm EDT
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Television comics Steve Carell and Tina Fey scored a disputed win at the North American box office on Sunday, as "Date Night" narrowly beat last weekend's champion "Clash of the Titans."

The duo's romantic comedy earned $27.1 million during its first weekend, said its distributor 20th Century Fox, coming in at the high end of pundits' forecasts.

"Clash of the Titans" grossed $26.9 million, said Warner Bros. But the studio said it estimated a $26 million weekend for "Date Night." Two rival studios also gave the edge to "Clash," while another said the race was too close to call.

"It does seem a little bizarre that they squeezed it out," Warner Bros. domestic distribution president Dan Fellman said of Fox's estimate. Fox declined to respond.

A clear winner will emerge on Monday when the studios release final data for the Friday-to-Sunday weekend.

Box office estimates are based on executives poring through the history books to research the trajectories of similarly themed films at the same time of year. The Sunday component is particularly open to revision since the studios release their three-day estimates early in the day.

Either way, the sales for both films were at the high end of industry forecasts. Pundits had predicted "Date Night" would open in the $23-27 million range, with "Clash" seen earning about $25 million.

Internationally, it was no competition. "Clash" led the field for a second weekend with sales of $54 million from 31 countries, taking its total to $119.2 million.   Continued...

<p>(L-R) Cast members Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Common, and Leighton Meester pose for photographers as they arrive at the premiere of "Date Night" in New York City April 6, 2010. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi</p>